Can you remember the lunch boxes you used to have at school? Vegemite sandwich. Tick. Apple. Tick. Warm yoghurt. Tick. A homemade biscuit if you were lucky.
So like me you’re possibly flabbergasted by the effort some mums put into the lunch boxes they make for their kids. I’ve seen sandwiches made into “traffic lights” with holes cut out to reveal red, yellow and green (tomato, cheese, avocado), bento boxes transformed into fairy gardens and all manner of characters from Minions to Nemo shaped out of artfully cut bread and vegetable slices.
Now I’m all for showing your kids love and expressing your creativity but surely these mums are having to rise at 6am to make Frozen-inspired snacks and then upload the images to Instagram. And has anyone asked their kids if they actually like them?
Recently I came across the Instagram page of Sydney mum Tomoko Horrell who makes the most incredible lunches for her son Sean. King Fu Panda, Peppa Pig, Jurassic Park, Spongebob Squarepants and The Simpsons all feature in her intricate lunch boxes.
Tomoko says it takes her about 20 minutes to make the characters – called kyaraben in Japan – but it seems her efforts may not be appreciated.
As she says: ‘I’ve started making these because I want my kids to eat lots of healthy food and enjoy it. But my son asks me for an Australian lunch, which means Vegemite sandwiches.’
After years of trying to make healthy and varied lunch boxes I’ve adopted the “good enough” approach.
I also think we do our kids no favours if we fuss too much.
Dr Judith Locke, author of The Bonsai Child, believes we’re making children’s lives too easy by doing too much for them and in turn robbing them of the opportunity to improve their self-esteem and resilience.
As she writes: ‘A child who has been given the perfect childhood can’t cope with the less than perfect, but completely normal realities of adult life.’